Discussions about trade imbalances in the euro area have not been focusing only on the deficit countries, but also on the extent to which responsibility for bringing about change lies with countries, such as the Netherlands, that are running surpluses. Various economists argue for higher wage increases in the Netherlands and other surplus countries in order to speed up the adjustment of imbalances in the EMU.
Analysis of the trade flows shows that the widening of the peripheral countries' trade deficits over the past decade largely reflected the stronger trade with non-euro area countries (see Figure, click to enlarge). Indeed the Netherlands and Germany's share in imports from the peripheral countries has actually fallen or remained the same in recent years. Their share in the peripheral countries' trade deficit has hence shown little if any increase. Moreover, the Netherlands and Germany do not compete much with the peripheral countries on third markets because of the vast differences in their export products.